The USS Nimitz, a U.S. Navy nuclear-powered supercarrier, arrives at the pier of the Korean Naval Operations Command in Busan on Thursday.

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S. Korea, U.S. begin 6-day joint military exercise

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States Sunday began a six-day joint military exercise to deter potential military threats from North Korea amid Pyongyang's accusations that they are staging a "massive war game" in preparation to invade the North.

The "Key Resolve" exercise to be held across South Korea until Friday involves a great portion of the 650,000 South Korean troops, as well as about 12,000 U.S. forces stationed in South Korea and 6,000 U.S. troop reinforcements from the U.S. mainland and Pacific bases, a South Korean military source said.

The annual joint exercise formerly called "Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration of Forces" (RSOI) aims to coordinate combat capabilities of the South Korean and 28,000-strong U.S. troops here, as well as reinforcements from the U.S. mainland in case of war, officials said.

The San Diego-based USS Nimitz, a 93,000-ton U.S. aircraft carrier that can accommodate over 6,000 crew members and more than 100 aircraft, is part of the drill. This is the first time the U.S. nuclear-fueled aircraft carrier has participated in the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise.

The USS Nimitz, the world's largest of its kind, is accompanied by five other ships, comprising a carrier strike group. The nuclear-powered U.S. submarine USS Ohio, two U.S. Aegis destroyers, the 8,300-ton USS John S. McCain and the 9,200-ton USS Chaffee are also participating.

To avoid unnecessarily provoking North Korea, the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) has notified the North of their training schedule and the defensive nature of the joint exercise.

Some 28,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War. The two Koreas technically remain at war, as the Korean War ended with an armistice treaty.

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Yonhap News  (Posted 3/2/08)